Simple Dragonfly Unit Study for Preschoolers (3-6 years old)

Dragonflies are fascinating insects that can be found in a variety of habitats around the world. They have been around for over 300 million years and have evolved into a diverse group of over 5,000 species. In this unit study, we will explore the life cycle, anatomy, behavior, and ecological importance of dragonflies.

Life cycle of Dragonflies

Dragonflies undergo a unique life cycle that includes four stages: egg, nymph, molt, and adult. The female lays her eggs in or near water, and they hatch into nymphs after a few weeks. The nymphs spend most of their lives in the water, where they molt several times and grow into adults. When they are ready to become adults, they crawl out of the water and molt one last time to emerge as winged dragonflies.

Egg stage

Female dragonflies lay their eggs in or near the water on objects that are partially submerged, usually plants. The number of eggs laid can be a few dozen to several hundred depending on the species. Eggs are small, elongated, and often sticky to adhere to the surface where they are deposited.

Nymph stage

After a few weeks, the eggs turn into nymphs. Nymphs live in water and breathe through the gills in their butt. They eat small water animals like mosquito babies, baby frogs, and little fish. Nymphs shed their skin several times as they grow and get bigger each time.

Molt stage

When nymphs reach their final stage of growth, they climb out of the water and attach themselves to a plant or other surface. Then they shed their skin to reveal the adult dragonfly inside. This process is called emergence.

Adult stage

The grown-up dragonfly hangs from the shed skin while its wings get dry. After the wings are dry and fully grown, the dragonfly can fly away and start hunting on its own.

Anatomy of Dragonflies

Dragonflies have a unique anatomy that allows them to fly and hunt with incredible speed and agility. Their bodies are divided into three parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. They have two pairs of wings, six legs, and large compound eyes that provide excellent vision. Their wings can move independently, allowing them to hover and fly in any direction.

Dragonflies have three main body parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen.


The head contains the dragonfly’s eyes, mouthparts, and antennae. Dragonflies have two large compound eyes that provide excellent vision and are made up of thousands of individual lenses. They also have strong mandibles for biting and chewing their prey.

  • Dragonflies have two large compound eyes that provide them with excellent vision. These eyes are composed of many small lenses and cover most of the insect’s head, allowing them to see in all directions. The lenses enable them to detect colors and polarized light, which assists them in navigating and locating their prey. Dragonflies are also adept at detecting movement and can accurately track fast-moving objects.
  • Dragonflies have strong mandibles for biting and chewing their prey. The mouthparts are located in the head, along with the dragonfly’s eyes and antennae.
  • Dragonflies have antennae located on their head. The antennae are used for sensing their environment and detecting prey. They are typically short and thick, with a series of segments that can move independently of each other. The exact structure of the antennae can vary depending on the species of dragonfly.


The thorax is the middle section of the dragonfly’s body and is where its wings and legs are attached. Dragonflies have two pairs of wings that are transparent and have unique patterns of veins. Their legs are long and slender and covered in spines for catching prey.

  • Dragonflies have two pairs of wings that are transparent and have unique patterns of veins. Their wings can move independently, allowing them to fly with incredible speed and agility. Their wings can beat up to 30 times per second, allowing them to hover and fly in any direction.
  • Dragonflies have six long and slender legs that are covered in spines for catching prey. The legs are attached to the thorax of the dragonfly and are used for walking, grasping, and holding onto prey. The legs are also used for grooming and cleaning the dragonfly’s body.


The abdomen is the long, segmented tail of the dragonfly. It contains the dragonfly’s reproductive organs, digestive system, and respiratory system.

Dragonflies can use their abdomen to control their flight and change direction quickly.

Book Recommendations about Dragonflies

Here are a few book recommendations for children about dragonflies:

These books provide fun and educational information about dragonflies and their unique characteristics. They are a great way to introduce children to the world of dragonflies and spark their curiosity about these fascinating insects.

Supplemental Activity Sheets

MindSprout offers this beautiful set of printable activities designed for kids who adore dragonflies! It features a variety of fun and educational activities, including counting, coloring, and tracing pages, as well as activities that explore the life cycle and anatomy of dragonflies.

These engaging and interactive activities will encourage kids to discover the unique features of these fascinating insects while providing hours of educational entertainment. Whether they are just beginning to learn about dragonflies or are already captivated by these creatures, this printable activity pack is sure to inspire and delight!

This is something you’ll get to use for years or for multiple kids of different ages!

What’s Inside the Dragonfly Unit Study

The 39-page PDF file with the following in Print, D’nealian, and Cursive:

  • Coloring Pages (for Kids & Adults)
  • Skip Counting Puzzles
  • Line Tracing Practice Sheets
  • Counting Clip Cards
  • Life Cycle Posters (Watercolor style & Blacklines)
  • Life Cycle Activities
  • Pink Lined Montessori Writing Sheet Cards
  • Parts of a Snail (Posters with Blanks)
  • Parts of a Snail (5-part cards)
  • Links to Recommended Books and Products for this unit study.


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